Submission Tips: the do’s and don’ts

By Cody Durain, intern

Hello dear readers,

Today marks the first month I have been interning here at Bright Sky Press. It has been a blast and I am eagerly looking forward to the next! But I wanted to take some time to share with you my insider view of our publishing company.

One of the larger, and seemingly never ending, projects we work on here is reviewing submissions. Don’t get me wrong, we love them, yet some are, shall we say, a better fit than others. So I have decided to share some tips on submissions!

Be professional. This is a given sure, but you’d be surprised at how many nonchalant and horrifically unprofessional cover letters we receive. By all means: look professional! Everything you submit is connected and represents both you and your work. Put your best foot forward and spend some time on presentation.

Cover letters. This brings us to my second tip, have a cover letter. It is extremely helpful for us to have a reference sheet for the submission. Things to include here are:

  • Who you are. (Not just your name, but something about you too. We don’t need a life story, but it is helpful to have an idea of you. Contact info is also important, but should be placed at the top pf the page.)
  • What your submission is about. (This is a big one for the initial reviewer. It is fairly easy for you, but it allows us to switch into the appropriate mindset while reading your work.)
  • Why us? (We cherish each publishing project and are extremely proud of the catalogue we cultivate. Each publication reflects us and is related to each other, like a big family. What is it that makes us the right fit for your submission. A good pitch here goes a long way.)

Audience. This one is a little tricky, but still important. First let’s talk about target audiences. Consider to whom your submission is geared towards. Is it to children? Then maybe don’t use archaic vocabulary or a section on income taxes. Or alternatively, is it aimed at adult readers? Then watch your sentence quality. Yes, we know Sam has a ball and the ball is red. Matching the form of your submission to the content can be tricky but it is an important step in a successful piece. However, this also raises another issue. There is a difference between a target audience and an exclusive audience. Our goal is to expand our reader’s horizons and get new books to as many excited readers as we can. Knowledge in certain topics, although it may be common to you, is not always universal. Watch out for exclusivity and aim to educate and share an area with your readers rather than accidently shielding them from it.

Physical beats electrical. As much as email has connected us all, it’s actually the worst way to send us a submission. Our most common, and preferred, way of receiving submissions is by mail. Yep, good old fashion; reliable; enveloping toting; snail mail! We also accept drop offs (you know, in person deliveries), but my first tip applies here too- be professional. Which brings us back to email. You can email us a submission, but don’t. Email is a tool we use for other communication purposes, and mixing it with our review process can get messy.

SASE. Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope. Know these words. Once we evaluate a submission we get to share the (hopefully good) news with you. Traditionally we will write you a letter and using the SASE, that you provide, we mail it to you. Occasionally submitters will request their entire submission returned with the letter of acceptance/rejection. If this is the case, make sure you provide the appropriate size envelope and postage for it.

I hope you found these tips helpful! We take each submission we get very seriously so I hope we are all on the same page now.

Bright Sky Press, where Texas Meets Books your work!